Rapha Condor Blackpool Sportive Review

Rapha Condor are getting quite a few mentions on this blog of late, hopefully I'm inline for a free jersey sooner or later! Saturday was the third sportive in a row for me, another 60 miles this time around the Lancashire countryside.

The Rapha Condor Sportive is another new addition to the UK sportive line up, and a warm up to the Blackpool Nocturne crit series later on in the evening. The sportive started at the Solaris centre, right on the seafront of the South Promenade (for those of you that did the Manchester to Blackpool, it was finishing point for that sportive).

The route would take us on a loop from Blackpool into Lytham St Annes, through Warton, Freckleton, Kirkham, Longridge, Goosnargh, Woodplumpton through Lytham St Annes and back home.

The weather started off dull and grey with the odd shower so with full length bibs and stowaway jacket on we set off (signing on was a doddle, the facilities were great and starting was efficient). The route took us down the long drag up to Lytham St Annes. The pace was fast pretty much all day. Once again I suffered cold muscle syndrome at the start, loosing my starting group but managed to join another slower moving group, then got on the front and dragged them along to the bigger group up the road just in time for the country road stretch.

A group of about 15 of us tore through beautiful winding country roads, if only it had been hot and sunny! The roads were deathly quiet allowing the group to take up the whole road with no problems. A couple of short but sharp hills within the first 10 - 15 miles caught me out, which saw me hitting the back of the group. I hung on and managed to work back through on the flat.

The pace was relentless, the group was never more than 2 a brest due to the pace and you were constantly pushing forward. Well, we thought we were going at a good pace until out of nowhere the Rapha Condor Cycling Team came bombing through. 20 of them all 2 a brest. You dug deep, you tried to catch the wheel but the speed was too mad to keep up. It really makes you think just how much more you need to improve when you see that and credit to the Rapha Condor team for getting involved with us common foe, it was a great experience.

Anyway, after that the bunch, which had rolled around country lanes for the last hour, became detached. Everyone was everywhere and soon enough I was on my own. I think I lost energy from chasing the Rapha Condor group and then simply lost track of the bunch in the process. I think the bunch was full of strong, faster riders that left me at that point.

So I battled on, a couple of drags crept up but nothing to worry about. No-one over took me nor did I see anyone either. I eventually came to the feed stop and was the first one there. By this time the sun was shining and off came the jacket. I was joined 5 minutes later by 6 others and from there I continued with 2 guys. We worked together really well, constantly taking turns on the front and rolled through the lanes really well. Unfortunately I lost them at a road junction having got caught up for 5 minutes trying to cross and ended up doing the last 12 on my own.

Again the roads rolled along pretty quickly and the final couple of miles into Blackpool through Lytham St Annes dragged once again (for those that did the Manchester to Blackpool it was the same finish). I'll never get used to that drag it's a pain.

I rolled across the line in 3 hours 30 minutes. Delighted. I had knocked 30 minutes off Cheshire Plains and Peaks and 1 hour off Manchester to Blackpool. To makes things even better apart from numb bum my legs felt great, even the next day.

The organisation was great, the organisers were really friendly, a smiling face and clap is always great at the end. You recieved a free SIS gel, energy bar and drink at the feedstation. Everywhere was signposted really well, some larger markers would perhaps be an improvement for next time but no major worries.

There was a mixture of abilities but I would say this sportive was more for those into their cycling with a couple of sportives under the belt. I would definately recommend the Rapha Condor Sportive.

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